Ssangyong Motor has won court approval to order the striking workers to leave its plant in Pyeongtaek, it said.

The workers have occupied the plant, about 70km (45 miles) from Seoul, since 22 May in protest against planned job cuts at the SUV specialist, which is currenly under Korean court protection from creditors.

The company said damage caused by the strike would force it to declare insolvency if the situation was not resolved. The court ruled striking workers must stop the occupation of the plant and cede the facilities. The court order was due to be delivered to the striking workers on Friday.

The Korea Herald noted, however, that if the occupiers refused, there was still very little the company could do to regain control of the plant.

A Ssangyong spokesman told the newspaper: "The announcement is meaningful in that it shows that the activities of the striking workers are illegal. But as large numbers of people are inside we consider it unlikely that court officials will be able to force them out. If it comes to that we will seek other means to clear them out within legal boundaries."